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Dislocated Thumb in Children: Care Instructions


A sudden twisting or a blow can cause a thumb to move out of its normal position. This is called a dislocation. Your child's doctor probably put the thumb back in its normal position. Your child will need to wear a splint while the thumb heals.

The tissues in the thumb may be damaged, sore, and swollen. Your child may need surgery if the damage is severe.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child wear the splint day and night until your follow-up visit. Do not let your child take it off unless the doctor tells you to.
  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's thumb for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's hand on a pillow when your child ices it or anytime your child sits or lies down. Have your child try to keep it above the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child's thumb is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the thumb.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.